Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes (9) Nova Scotia, CFB Shearwater Aviation Museum

CFB Shearwater Aviation Museum

The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical Warplane preserved in Canada.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these aircraft to provide and update the data on this website.  Photos are by the author unless otherwise credited.  Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Warplanes in Canada would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at

Data current to 3 May 2020.

Shearwater, CFB Shearwater, Shearwater Aviation Museum (SAM), 12 Wing.

Beechcraft Expeditor, being restored.

Canadair CT-133 Silver Star (Serial No. 133038), (Serial No. 21038).  Silver, VU32, RCN.  The CT-133's on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum are two of the 656 CT-133's built for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) by Canadair in Montreal in 1953.  In 1954 the RCAF gave the Royal Canadian Navy the first of 16 CT-133's to assist the Navy in preparing for the arrival of the Banshee jet fighter.   The Museum's two CT-133's are painted in different paint schemes representing the first and last eras of the CT-133 at Shearwater.  Serial No. 133038, is finished in a natural aluminum silver with tip tanks, nose and tail painted red for high visibility. This aircraft with Royal Canadian Navy markings is typical of the paint scheme of the CT-133 when it was flown by the Navy at Shearwater in the 1950's and 1960's.  The Navy used the CT-133 for pilot proficiency training and towing targets.  (SAM)

 (Author Photos)

Canadair CT-133 Silver Star (Serial No. 133618), No. 434 Squadron.  Serial No. 133618, is finished in low-visibility camouflage gray typical of the paint scheme when the “T- Bird”, as it was affectionately known, was last flown from Shearwater by Air Command's No. 434 Squadron in 1994.  Throughout its 40-year tenure at Shearwater the “T-Bird” provided target services for the Navy.  The last CT-133 was retired from the Canadian Forces in the spring of 2002.  (SAM)

Canadair CT-114 Tutor (Serial No. 114075).  The CT-114, serial number 114075, is one of 190 Tutor training aircraft that was acquired by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1963. The CT-114 was primarily based at Moose Jaw Saskatchewan where the Air Force conducts the majority of its pilot training. When the “Snowbird” Formation Flying Team was formed at Moose Jaw in 1971, the Team flew the Tutor painted in the Team's distinctive red and white paint scheme. Although the CT-114 was phased out of pilot training in 2001, the “Snowbirds” continue to fly the aircraft as the premier air attraction at air shows all over North America. CT-114, serial number 114075, is on display in hangar #2 at the Shearwater Aviation Museum in the livery of “Snowbird 7”. This aircraft commemorates the participation of the “Snowbirds” in every Shearwater International Air Show (now Nova Scotia International Air Show) since its inception in the early 1980's.  (SAM)

Canadair CF-116D Freedom Fighter (Serial No. 116832), SAM, Shearwater, Nova Scotia.  419 Squadron, Silver, dual.

 (USN Photo)

I am including an unexpected Nova Scotia connection with this photo discovery, a U.S. Navy Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver (BuNo. 1813) assigned to Naval Air Reserve Air Base New York, Floyd Bennett Field, in flight.  Note the NRAB New York insignia on the fuselage of the aircraft. This SBC-4 was transferred to the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) on 8 June 1940 and then to the French Navy.  44 were loaded onto the French aircraft carrier Marine Nationale  Béarn at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  France surrendered while Béarn was crossing the Atlantic; she turned south to Martinique, where the SBC-4s corroded in the humid Caribbean climate while waiting on a hillside near Fort-de-France.  5 aircraft left in Canada were used by the Royal Air Force as instructional airframes.

 (USN Photo)

U.S. Navy Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver (BuNo. 1813) assigned to Naval Air Reserve Air Base New York, Floyd Bennett Field, in flight.

(Jim Bates Photo)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver pair, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, ca 1940s. 

(RCN Photo)

Fairey Firefly F.R. Mk. I  in flight. 

 (Paul Mitcheltree Photos)

 (Author Photos)

Fairey Firefly F.R. Mk. I (Serial No. PP462).  The Fairey Firefly on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum is one of 236 Fighter-Reconnaissance mk.I (FR 1) versions built for the British Fleet Air Arm.  On 1 July 1945, in a bi-lateral undertaking to establish a Canadian Naval Air Arm, the Royal Navy (RN) reformed No. 825 Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Rattray in Scotland and agreed to man the squadron with Canadians.  To train the Canadians, 825 Squadron was initially equipped with 12 Fairey Barracuda II's.  In November 1945, the Barracudas were replaced with 12 Firefly FR 1's that were permantly given to Canada as part of Britain's war claim settlement. Firefly PP462 was one of the 12 replacement aircraft assigned to 825 Squadron.  The squadron was officially transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 24 January 1946 in consonance with the commissioning of Canada's first aircraft carrier, HMCS Warrior.  In March, 825 Squadron embarked in HMCS Warrior on her maiden voyage to Halifax where PP462 was among the first cadre of Canadian Fireflies to disembark and land on Canadian soil for the first time at RCAF Station Dartmouth on 31 March 1946.

PP462 was among the first of 29 Firefly FR 1's progressively taken on strength by the RCN between June 1946 and April 1947.  As with all the other aircraft received from the RN, PP462 was painted in the Royal Navy "Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey" camouflage.  The Firefly FR 1 was the RCN's first strike-reconnaissance fighter and formed the backbone of Canadian naval aviation during its formative years.  In addition to its large chin radiator the other feature, which distinguished the FR 1 from later versions of the Firefly was a canister, housing the radar antenna, suspended under the radiator.  An Observer (navigator) in the rear cockpit operated the radar to detect ships and submarines.

In 1946, the RCN and the RCAF agreed that all naval aircraft would be registered on the RCAF inventory.  An RCAF letter (MCHQ 31-5-1, 15 May 1946) stated, "This airframe was received from the Admiralty (HMCS Warrior) and brought on charge on initial entry" provided the authority to register PP462 on RCAF inventory.  The first line entry in PP462's log on 1 June 1946 shows it as being, "Stored in Reserve Eastern Air Command (EAC) Halifax".  (It was the custom for all new aircraft received by the RCAF to be placed in storage before being assigned to a squadron).  Although it is certain that 825 Squadron used PP462 for training from its arrival in March, it wasn't until 7 October 1946 that EAC paper work officially authorized PP462 to be transferred from storage to 825 Squadron.  After an intensive training program both ashore and on HMCS Warrior, PP462 embarked on HMCS Warrior on 7 November 1946 as one of 825 Squadron's aircraft for the winter cruise to the West Coast (Nov 46-Mar 47).  On 19 March 1947, PP462 was transferred to 826 Squadron. Ten days later Lt. S.E. Soward scraped PP462's wingtip while landing at Quebec in a cross wind.  In April 1947, PP462 was sent to Canadian Car and Foundry where it was painted in the new RCN colour scheme consisting of dark grey upper surfaces and light grey lower surfaces.  On 12 July 1947, PP462 was included in the en mass transfer of all naval aircraft from the RCAF to the RCN's inventory. PP462 was assigned to "Storage and Repair" from October 1948 until November 1949 when it was transferred back to 826 Squadron.

PP462 had been embarked on HMCS Magnificent with 826 Squadron only three days when, on 19 November 1949, LCdr. T.J. Roberts caught No. 3 wire on landing but couldn't prevent PP462 from veering to starboard and striking the ship's crane aft of the island.  PP462 returned to operation with 826 Squadron in February 1950.  PP462 was placed in "Storage and Repair" from April 1950 until March 1954 when it was one of nine RCN Firefly FR 1s sold to the government of Ethiopia.

The former RCN Fireflies were flown by the Ethiopian air force for an unknown period and were eventually disposed of in the desert when they were surplus to their needs.  PP462 languished in the desert until 1993 when its return journey to Shearwater began.  In 1993, the Canadian Air Attaché to Egypt, while on a visit to Ethiopia, noticed five Fairey Firefly aircraft languishing in the desert.  The Attaché observed that the aircraft bore RCN data plates.  Further investigation revealed that these aircraft were indeed ex-RCN Fireflies that had been sold to the Ethiopian air force.  Through diplomatic agreement the Ethiopian government donated to Canada the two best preserved Fireflies, which were airlifted by Canadian Forces Lockheed C-130 Hercules to Shearwater and Ottawa.  Firefly PP462 was given to the Shearwater Aviation Museum since Shearwater was the Firefly's main base of operations and the Shearwater Aviation Museum has earned an excellent reputation for preserving Canada's maritime military aviation heritage.  The second Firefly was given to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

Since Firefly PP462's arrival at Shearwater a small, dedicated group of volunteers has slowly been restoring the aircraft to flying condition with some technical assistance donated by local aviation industries.  Although the team has spent thousands of man-hours on work that was within their capability, the team periodically has to seek professional assistance for work that is beyond their expertise or in order to comply with federal airworthiness regulations.  For example, only a company in Germany had the capability to refurbish and balance the wooden propeller and a company in Texas had the sole experience to repair the Rolls Royce Griffin V-12 engine block.  Although some companies are willing to perform their work for free, the museum is required to pay transportation and material costs.

Although the Shearwater Aviation Museum was awarded a $38,052 grant by the Millenium Bureau of Canada in 2000, the museum also depends on personal and corporate donations to help defray costs.  When fully restored Firefly PP462 will be one of only two Firefly FR-1's in the world capable of flying and provide a tangible example of the firefly's unique role in Canada's proud maritime aviation heritage.  The Shearwater Aviation Museum Foundation, the local population and the Canadian Forces support this project, as the Firefly and the distinctive roar of its Rolls Royce Griffon engine were not only a fond community memory but an integral part of their history.  (SAM)

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390387)

Fairey Swordfish Mk. II, on display in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 29 Sep 1944.  

 (Author Photos, 7 Sep 2018)

Fairey Swordfish Mk. II (Serial No. HS469), FB 3S 126A, C-GRCN, 1943.  Swordfish HS469 was delivered to the Royal Navy (RN) at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Manston in February 1943. This Swordfish was flown by RN 841 Squadron while seconded to the RAF Coastal Command on English Channel operations and thence on to Royal Naval Air Station Lee-On-Solent in April 1943, where it was disassembled, crated and shipped to HMS Seaborn, a Royal Naval Air Section tenant unit at RCAF Station Dartmouth N.S. HS469 was reassembled at HMS Seaborn and test flown 12 July 1943 by Lieutenant Richard S. Bunyard RN. It was transferred, on 28 August 1943, to RN 745 Squadron, which provided aircraft to Number 1 Naval Telegraphist Air Gunner School (TAGS) at RCAF Station Yarmouth N.S. as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BACTP). In August 1944, HS469 was involved in a runway undershoot incident.

During 1944 while at Yarmouth, HS469, originally a Mk. II, underwent modification No. 408 to enclose the open cockpits with a canopy, thereby converting it to one of the 59 Mk. IV Swordfish operated by the School in January 1945.

On 2 August 1945, the Swordfish was transferred to the RCN and retained its HS469 identification, but according to regulations at the time was registered on RCAF inventory. The RCN announced in July 1946 that the Swordfish were finally being withdrawn from service, although some aircraft were dispersed throughout Canada for ground training purposes. HS469 was stuck off strength on 17 August 1946 and disposed for scrap in Ontario.

HS469 languished in a farmer's field in Ontario for many years until resurrected by group of naval aviation enthusiasts in the Toronto area in the early 1980's. After more than 13 years of painstaking work HS469 flew in April 1994 at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater, one of only four airworthy Swordfish in the world at the time, and donated to the Shearwater Aviation Museum.  (SAM)

Since there were insufficient aircraft carriers to escort convoys across the Atlantic the British converted 19 grain ships and oil tankers to Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MAC). The grain ships, fitted with a 400 foot flight deck, hangar and elevator, operated four Swordfish while the tankers with a 460 foot flight deck had no hangar to accommodate their three Swordfish. In September 1940, Royal Naval Air Section HMS Seaborn was formed as lodger unit at RCAF Station Dartmouth to service the Swordfish as they were flown ashore from their MAC Ships. As the Swordfish suffered high attrition flying from their small MAC Ships in the heavy North Atlantic weather, replacement Swordfish were shipped in crates in holds of other merchant vessels to Halifax where they were assembled and test flown at HMS Seaborn for the MAC Ships returning in convoys to England. Many of the reassembled Swordfish were also flown to the Royal Navy's No. 1 Telegraphist Air Gunner School (1 TAGS), a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan lodger unit at RCAF Station Yarmouth N.S., where they were used as training aircraft.

When HMS Seaborn was decommissioned on 28 January 1946, the Royal Navy donated the 22 Swordfish currently at HMS Seaborn to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The newly acquired Swordfish were used to form Fleet Requirements Unit 743 where they were used for general purpose duties. With approval to form a RCN air arm reserve, some of the veteran Swordfish were ferried to 11 Naval Reserve Divisions across Canada for ground crew instructional purposes.  (SAM)

(USN Photo)

Grumman TBM-3W Avenger aircraft on the flight deck of the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), circa 1953. 

 (USN Photo)

Grumman Avenger AS.3 aircraft flying past the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), circa 1953.

General Motors (Grumman) TBM-3 Avenger (Serial No. 85861/TFD).  Grumman Avenger 85861 at the Shearwater Aviation Museum’s is one of 4,657 Avenger TBM-3’s built for the U.S. Navy late in the Second World War. Avenger 85861 was manufactured at the Trenton, New Jersey Eastern Aircraft Division plant of General Motors Corporation. Built as a TBM-3E, Avenger 85861 could be distinguished from the basic TBM-3 by the AN/APS-4 radar pod fitted to the underside of the starboard wing.  The “dash 3E” was the last Avenger model to be produced in quantity during the Second World War.
Avenger 85861 was among the initial batch of 74 Avengers purchased from the U.S. Navy and taken on strength by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in July 1950.  Nine months later it was turned over to the Fairey Aviation Company of Canada Ltd plant at Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia where it was converted to the AS-3 Mark 1 version for the RCN’s anti-submarine role.  The modification to the AS 3 included the installation of sonobuoy equipment and reconfiguring the center cockpit and gunner’s position to accommodate an Observer and an Observer’s Mate.  In early May 1952, 85861 was taken on strength by Fleet Requirements Unit 743 (FRU 743) of the No. 1 Training Air Group based at HMCS Shearwater.  The aircraft was among the first Avengers to be allocated to the unit and was marked with the identification letters “TF-D”; the “TF” identifying the squadron and the “D”, the individual aircraft within the squadron.
Six months after 85861 came on board, FRU 743 was elevated to squadron status and redesignated VU 32.  One of the squadron’s many tasks was training Observer’s Mates (OMs), who were responsible for communications and some of the anti-submarine duties (dropping sonobuoys, smoke floats or marine markers as directed by the Observer, and operating the radar).  When targets of reconnaissance interest were encountered, the OM was responsible for aerial photography.  The Avenger was ideal for training Observer’s Mates, since the operational squadrons (VS 880 and VS 881) to which the OM’s were assigned after graduation used the same type of aircraft.
Avenger 85861 was destined for a short career in the RCN.  On 6 August 1953, it was scheduled to take part in a practice flypast for the upcoming Halifax naval day celebrations.  While climbing to rendezvous with the other participating aircraft, it suffered a throttle linkage failure and was forced to ditch in Bedford Basin.  It was officially struck off charge on 16 September 1953 and lay submerged on the Basin floor until June 1972, when it was raised by the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic as a training exercise.  It was subsequently restored by a team of technicians from VT 406 Squadron at CFB Shearwater, and in October 1975 was presented to the base for display as a gate guardian along Bonaventure Boulevard.
As an outdoor gate guardian, Avenger 85861 unfortunately suffered severe deterioration from the corrosive maritime weather. To preserve the aircraft permission was granted in 1999 to move 85861 to unused space in one of the 12 Wing hangars where it could be protected from the elements. In March 2005, when hangar space was no longer available Avenger 85861 was moved into the museum where it is displayed as a work in progress while being restored.  (SAM)

General Motors (Grumman) TBM-3E Avenger (Serial No. 53610), C-FIMR.  Aircraft No. 23.  Flown to the Shearwater Aviation Museum on 26 July 2012.

de Havilland Canada (Grumman) CS2F-1/CP-121 Tracker (Serial No. 121157).  Tracker 1557, which is still in airworthy condition, is currently on display in hangar #2 and represents the latest version of the Tracker flown by the Canadian Forces. After building 42 CS2F-1's, deHavilland switched production to the CS2F-2 with improved Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) and radar systems and minor airframe refinements. The first of 57 CS2F-2's entered service with the RCN in January 1960 and gradually replaced the older CS2F-1's. The RCN developed further improvements to the Tracker, which resulted in Fairey Aviation substantially modifying 45, CS2F-2's that were designated CS2F-3's, the first of which was delivered to the RCN in July 1966. The CS2F-3 featured a new Tactical Navigation System, doppler radar, improved Jezebel and Julie submarine detection systems and an analogue computer to automatically integrate information from the Tracker's anti-submarine sensors.

With integration of the Armed Forces in 1968 and the subsequent demise of HMCS Bonaventure , the Tracker was re-rolled for shore based coastal patrols. The subsequent modification program removed of all of the anti-submarine sensors and installed new radar and communications equipment, the CS2F-3 was redesignated a CP-121 Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. Tracker operations ceased at CFB Shearwater in the summer of 1981. The Tracker was finally retired in 1990, 34 years after the first flight of the Canadian built CS2F-1.

Tracker, number1557, was modified from a CS2F-2 to a CS2F-3. After service integration in 1968 Tracker 1557 was re-rolled as a Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft and redesignated from CS2F-3 to CP-121. Consequently, in keeping with the Canadian Forces (CF) practice of incorporating the digits from the aircraft designation into the serial number 1557 became 12157.  (SAM)

de Havilland Canada (Grumman) CS2F-1/CP-121 Tracker (Serial No. X5000), (Serial No. 1501).  Tracker number 1501 is especially noteworthy because it is the first Tracker built for the RCN. It actually started as a US Navy Grumman-built S2F-1 purchased by deHavilland Canada to verify the fidelity of the production jigs and tooling supplied by Grumman. Following its pattern verification role the aircraft received the serial number X-500, the “X” indicating its test function and “500” being a contraction of its interim RCN serial number 1500. The X-500 was accepted for the RCN on 13 December 1954 and was used for testing a wide variety of avionics and anti-submarine systems both at deHavilland (Toronto) and the National Aeronautical Establishment at Uplands (Ottawa). X-500 was also used to evaluate a stream of Engineering Change Proposals from Grumman's own evolving Tracker evaluation program. As Canadian production progressed, deHavilland used X-500 to verify the installation of subcontractor-built assemblies and fabrication details. 

By October 1956 the RCN had re-serialled X-500 as 1501. DeHavilland brought the aircraft closer to Canadian CS2F-1 standards during the final month of 1956 and first flew in this configuration on 8 January 1957. The RCN allocated 1501 to the Naval Air Maintenance School (NAMS) on 26 April 1957 where it became instructional airframe A706 used to train maintenance personnel. This was the only American airframe acquired by the Canadian government and no Grumman-built assemblies were used in the production of the following 99 Canadian Trackers. Tracker 1501 is currently being refurbished by the Shearwater Aviation Museum.  (SAM)

McDonnell CF-101B Voodoo (Serial No. 101063).  This aircraft has been transferred to the Canadian Museum of Flight, Langley, British Columbia.

 (RCN Photos)

McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee (Serial No. 126402), formerly with VR 870 Squadron, RCN.  Serial No. 126402, is one of 39 Banshees purchased from the United States Navy.  126402 arrived at Shearwater in March 1957 and was flown by VF 870 Squadron from Shearwater and the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure.  The Banshee was an all-weather fighter, which primarily provided air defence for the fleet.  It was retired from the Navy in September 1962 and donated to the Shearwater Aviation Museum.  This aircraft was displayed outdoors until 2000 where it deteriorated in the corrosive maritime weather.  It was brought indoors and refurbished by volunteers from 12 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and is now on display, in pristine condition, in the museum's No. 2 hangar.  Taken On Strength 13 Mar 1957, VF 870 24 Jun 1958, 21 Jul 1958, 11 Sep 1959, 7 Jan 1960, 22 May 1962, VX 10 13 Mar 1957, Struck Off Strength 12 Sep 1962.  (SAM)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II (Serial No. 2777).  The Harvard on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum is one of more than 17,000 Harvards built by North American Inc. aircraft factory in Inglewood California. It was built as a Mark II version, allocated Serial No. 2777 and subsequently taken on strength by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 14 January 1941 as a pilot training aircraft. Harvard 2777 served out the remainder of the war at No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dunville ON, a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) station. Following cessation of hostilities in late 1945, 2777 went into storage at Dunville, but was put back in service in August of 1950 when it was assigned to the RCAF’s 9403 Regular Service Unit where it supported 403 (Auxiliary) Squadron at Calgary, Alberta.  That same month it was equipped with a gyro gun sight that enabled it to be used as a Mark IIA armament trainer.

Declared surplus to the RCAF's needs, Harvard 2777 was loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 29 August 1950 and assigned to No. 1 Training Air Group (1 TAG) at HMCS Shearwater Naval Air Station. The RCAF extended the conditions to an indefinite loan to the RCN on 18 December 1953. It was initially assigned to the Navy’s No. 1 Training Air Group and eventually to its successor training squadron, VT 40, when it formed in May of 1954. Harvard 2777 was transferred from Shearwater to VC 924 naval air reserve squadron when it formed in Calgary on 1 June 1954. It remained on charge with the Navy until February 1957 after which it was placed on Inactive Reserve at No. 6 Repair Depot, RCAF Station Trenton Ontario.  When the RCAF retired its Mark II/IIA Harvards in 1959, Harvard 2777 was declared surplus to requirements and transferred to Fingal Ontario pending disposal. As part of the Harvard fleet retirement, Harvard 2777 was struck off strength on 11 October 1960 and turned over to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation where it was sold to private interests.  

Mr. D. Currie of Toronto subsequently donated Harvard 2777 to the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it was restored by volunteers from the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Naval Air Group. Harvard 2777 was rescued from long term storage in a deteriorated condition and with parts from other Harvards was refurbished as a VC 924 naval air reserve squadron Harvard with "930 - NAVY" markings.  (RCN Harvards retained their RCAF serial numbers but were assigned RCN aircraft numbers as well. Aircraft numbers in the 900 series were assigned to RCN air reserve squadrons).  Harvard 2777 for many years was a "Gate Guardian" at the entrance to the Shearwater air base. The aircraft again deteriorated out of doors in the corrosive maritime climate and was brought indoors in 1999 and given a new yellow paint job with "930 - NAVY" markings for display inside the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it stands today.  (SAM)

Piaseki HUP-3 helicopter, RCN, ca 1950s.  (Library and Archives Canada Photos, MIKAN No. 4821166 and 4821167)

Piasecki HUP-3 Retriever Helicopter, painted as RCN (Serial No. 51-16621), 245.  On 11 May 1954, three former U.S. Army Piasecki H-25 helicopters arrived at HMCS Shearwater; however, the RCN changed the designation to HUP-3 to be compatible with nomenclature used by the US Navy for the same helicopter. The HUP-3’s were initially taken on strength by Heavier Than Air Helicopter Squadron 21 (VH 21), but in April 1955; the squadron’s designation was changed to Helicopter Utility Squadron 21 (HU 21) to better reflect its utility role. The HUP-3’s were primarily intended for use aboard the ice breaker HMCS Labrador to provide a heavy lift (900 pound / 408 kg) capability. HUP-3’s were embarked on HMCS Labrador during arctic cruises from 1955 to 1957 and were used to site radar navigation beacons for oceanographic and hydrographic surveys and participate in marine biology, ice physics and Defence Research Board activities. During the 1957 cruise Labrador’s HUP-3 was used to assist the RCAF to fly equipment into remote DEW line radar sites, which were under construction. When not embarked on the icebreaker the HUP-3’s were used for search and rescue and general naval utility as well as providing support to other government departments. The three HUP-3’s were transferred to VU 33 in Patricia Bay B.C. in the late 1950’s where they performed fleet support roles until the last two aircraft were struck off strength on 18 Jan1964.

The HUP-3 helicopter was absent from Shearwater until 2003 when the current HUP-3 arrived on a flatbed truck from the Museum of Flight in Langley B.C. Unfortunately, this helicopter is not one of the three original RCN HUP-3’s. After the first RCN HUP-3, serial number 51-16621, was retired it was donated to the B.C. Institute of Technology to train aviation technicians. In 1982, the helicopter was donated to the Langley museum which retained possession until 2000 when it was traded to the Classic Rotors Rotorcraft Museum near San Diego, California. The San Diego museum wanted the Langley helicopter because it was the only known HUP-3 capable of being restored to air worthy condition.  In return, the Langley museum received a former U.S. Army HUP-3 from San Diego museum that was in weathered condition but easily restorable as a static helicopter exhibit.  (SAM)

In 2002, the Shearwater Aviation Museum negotiated a trade with the Langley museum in which the HUP-3 would be traded for Shearwater’s CF-101B Voodoo. After arriving at Shearwater on 26 February 2003, the HUP-3 languished in the museum until 2006 when a group of volunteers started to restore the HUP to replicate the RCN’s first HUP-3, serial number 51-16621. After arrival at VH 21 in 1954, HUP-3 51-16621, was assigned side number “945”, however, on 1 June 1955, the side number was changed to 245 which was retained until its transfer to VU 33. Shortly after arrival at VU 33, 51-16621 was assigned side number 405, followed by 921 to conform to the squadron’s numbering schemes. During the latter part of 1958, the policy of using the last three digits of the serial number came into being and the side number 621 was assigned until the HUP-3 was struck off strength on 18 Jan 1964.

The RCN’s one and only icebreaker HMCS Labrador played an important role in opening Canada’s Arctic. During Labrador’s summer excursions to the Arctic in 1955, 1956 and 1957, the concept of helicopter operations was expanded and refined and included a Piasecki HUP-3, one of three acquired specifically for HMCS Labrador. The HUP-3 provided a heavy lift (900 pound / 408 kg) capability and was used to lift heavy radar navigation beacons ashore for oceanographic and hydrographic surveys and to support marine biology and ice physics research and a host of other Defence Research Board activities. These cruises provided a cadre of experienced pilots and technicians who were instrumental in pioneering the development of the “Beartrap” and the operation of large ASW helicopters from small destroyers.  (SAM)

Sikorsky HO4S-3, RCN,ca 1957.   (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4821305)

Sikorsky HO4S-3, RCN, 5 April 1957.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4821233)

Sikorsky HO4S-3 Horse Helicopter (Serial No. 739B), (55885).  The HO4S-3, serial Number 55885 is on display in hangar # 1 at the Shearwater Aviation Museum. This “Horse” was delivered to the Shearwater naval air station on 31 August 1955 and was initially assigned to Anti-Submarine Squadron, HS-50, where the assigned squadron number, a large day-glow orange “7” was painted on the nose and sides of the aircraft. On 26 November 1956, No. 885 was reassigned to Utility Squadron, HU-21, where, by coincidence, it also was assigned squadron number “7”. In addition to its normal training and transport duties, No.885 was involved in at least seven rescue missions saving upwards of 20 lives. These missions ranged from hovering over two burning aircraft to blow the flames away from the cockpits, thereby enabling the Shearwater rescue crews to remove the pilots, to rescuing four crewmembers whose Tracker aircraft had bolted over the side of HMCS Bonaventure into the sea, in a landing mishap. However, No. 885's most notable mission occurred in September 1962 while embarked as “Pedro” on Bonaventure. No. 885 was instrumental in saving seriously injured survivors from a Flying Tiger Super Constellation, carrying 76 American military personnel and family members, which ditched in the North Atlantic.

On 8 May 1970, No.885 was retired from active naval duties and transferred to the School of Aerospace Engineering at CFB Borden as an instructional aid until struck off Canadian Forces strength on 15 August 1985. The helicopter was subsequently donated to the Shearwater Aviation Museum which, in turn, loaned the aircraft to the New Brunswick Community College in Dieppe where various aviation trades courses restored No. 885 to working condition to gain practical learning experience. The totally refurbished helicopter was presented to the Shearwater Aviation Museum 26 August 1998.  (SAM)

Sikorsky HO4S-3 Horse Helicopter (Serial No. A740), (55891).

Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King Helicopter (Serial No. 4001).

Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King Helicopter (Serial No.).

Canadian Vickers (Supermarine) Stranraer, RCAF, 7 Apr 1949.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584227)

Supermarine 304 Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 915), CV-205, CF-BYJ, “Nootka Queen,” Queen Charlotte Air Lines.

This aviation handbook is designed to be used as a quick reference to the classic military heritage aircraft that have been flown by members of the Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and the Canadian Forces. The interested reader will find useful information and a few technical details on most of the military aircraft that have been in service with active Canadian squadrons both at home and overseas. 100 selected photographs have been included to illustrate a few of the major examples in addition to the serial numbers assigned to Canadian service aircraft. For those who like to actually see the aircraft concerned, aviation museum locations, addresses and contact phone numbers have been included, along with a list of aircraft held in each museum's current inventory or on display as gate guardians throughout Canada and overseas. The aircraft presented in this edition are listed alphabetically by manufacturer, number and type. Although many of Canada's heritage warplanes have completely disappeared, a few have been carefully collected, restored and preserved, and some have even been restored to flying condition. This guide-book should help you to find and view Canada's Warplane survivors.

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